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Chapter Committees, Task Forces and Collaborations
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Chapter Committees, Task Forces and Collaborations
Strengthening the Social Work Workforce - Opportunities for Member Participation

May 2009


In this issue of Currents, an opportunity is being taken to call attention to the numerous Chapter committees, task forces and collaborations that are underway. The breadth of activity that is reflected here is considerable.

In addition to the work listed in the following pages, the Chapter is heavily engaged in addressing the future of the social work workforce. Page three highlights the need for strengthening the social work workforce and lays out four approaches underway for alleviating social work shortages. For a complete listing of the Chapter’s workforce objectives, including improving working conditions, go to the Chapter’s website:
At this time, licensing is considered the most critical of the workforce issues. While licensing is an achievement for the social work profession and sets standards for being considered a professional social worker, the Chapter’s Board of Directors is very concerned about the licensing law being out of sync with many of the realities of practice and the capacity of service-providing organizations to meet licensing requirements. See the Chapter’s website for the latest update on licensing.

Collaborations and alliances are now key to the progress the Chapter intends to make in many areas. Turning stakeholders in the profession into partners is central to the Chapter’s three year strategic plan, given that it will take more resources and abilities than any single organization can bring to bear. These steakholders include schools of social work, agencies, labor unions, umbrella organizations, other social work membership organizations, and NYC-PACE, the Chapter’s political action arm.

In many instances, especially in relationship to committees, NASW members are welcomed and encouraged to get involved. Members are also encouraged to run for election to the Board of Directors or Nominations Committee. The process of getting nominated will begin in the fall of 2009 for elections next spring.

Addictions Committee
The Addictions Committee provides various social work opportunities, including clinical skills development, networking and mutual support, gaining free CASAC credits, involvement in policy initiatives, and conference organizing. There are three subcommittees: Addictions Institute Planning, Peer Consultation, and Policy. The Institute Planning Subcommittee organizes the Annual Addictions Institute, known for over 40 years as a learning opportunity relating to addiction treatment, research, and governmental policies. The Peer Consultation Subcommittee provides free confidential telephone consultation to social workers dealing with their own substance abuse problems or those of a colleague or family member. The Policy Subcommittee is working to continue advocacy for real change in New York State’s drug laws and to expand training and education of social workers and various healthcare agencies about addiction. Monthly meetings are held at the Chapter office which begin with a business meeting, followed by a presentation on a variety of topics. For more information, please contact co-chairs, Marc Raybin at and Laurie Drucker at

Disaster Trauma Committee
Since 1997, the Disaster Trauma Committee has met to recognize social workers’ interest and experience in disaster trauma work, with bimonthly meetings for continuing learning, and collegial support. It offers social workers a context for dialogue, engagement, and for expanding their knowledge and practice base. Meeting presentations focus on the diversity of disaster experience within a global context, exploring the cultural context of loss and grieving after disaster, disaster preparedness planning, and attention to vicarious trauma – the inevitable impact of immediate and long-term disaster work on social workers and the requisite need for self-care. The Committee also tries to identify immediate, emerging, and long-term issues and response considerations with regard to all aspects of disaster trauma work. Recent meetings have focused on the economic downturn, returning veterans and their families, and aviation disasters. All social workers are welcome to attend meetings. For more information, please contact chairperson, Madelyn Miller, at

Future of Social Work in Hospitals Task Force
This task force is a joint initiative of NASW-NYC and 1199 SEIU, Professional Technical Unit and is made up of social work leadership and line staff from a representative group of voluntary and public hospitals in New York City. There is coordination on policy issues with the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care, Metropolitan New York Chapter. As hospitals and health care settings continue to experience major changes in organizational structure and service delivery models, the essential role of professional social work in this large sector of practice has been repeatedly challenged. The task force serves an important function by promoting the visibility of social work in health care, highlighting the leadership role that social workers perform within interdisciplinary teams including clinical, case management, program development, and community outreach services, as well as our unique skills in bridging the continuum of care to the benefit of patients, families, and health care systems. For more information, please contact Fran Gautieri at

Gerontological Social Workers Committee
The Gerontological Social Work Committee (GSWC) meets quarterly to address practice and policy issues of work with aging populations. Recent meeting topics have included the Age-Friendly Cities Project, NYC budget update, and housing and homelessness. Each meeting includes time for networking and reports from the standing subcommittees: Workforce, Legislative, Long Term Care, Mental Health, and Diversity. Past Committee initiatives have included the Salary/Workforce Survey and a Workforce/Licensing Conference. The survey explored five areas: salary and benefits, education and licensing, agency and private practice settings, demographic information, and interest in the Gerontological Social Work Committee. New initiatives will be launched for this coming year. Regardless of one’s field of practice, most social workers deal with issues associated with aging at some point in their careers. The Gerontological Social Work Committee welcomes participants to its meetings and invites questions and comments regarding issues relevant to work with senior populations. For more information, please contact co-chairs, Jeannine Melly at and Peter Martin at

Latino Social Work Task Force
The Latino Social Work Task Force (LSWTF) was founded out of a joint collaboration between the Puerto Rican Family Institute (PRFI), a New York-based non-profit health and human services organization and the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NYC). The Task Force is a leadership group that includes the deans and administrators from six of New York City’s graduate schools of social work, leaders in the Latino community and executives of Latino community-based organizations and other major social service agencies. The LSWTF recognizes the shortage of culturally and linguistically competent professionals to address the complex needs of New York’s diverse, largely immigrant, low-income, and rapidly-growing Latino community, and has worked strategically since 2002 to meet this need. To date, the Task Force has raised over $200,000 in funds for scholarships for Latino men and women pursuing their MSWs through a yearly fund-raising event, as well as grant writing endeavors and lobbying. For more information about the accomplishments and activities of the LSWTF, please contact Dr. Robert Schacter at

LGBT Social Work Committee
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee of NASW NYC’s mission is to:
• Provide LGBT social workers and social work students with a peer network that promotes connection, positive interaction and mutual support
• Celebrate the contributions LGBT social workers make to the profession
• Provide continuing education in order to empower social workers to better serve the needs of LGBT clients and expand their clinical and community based practice
• Promote social justice on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people
• Support research that contributes to the existing body of social work knowledge with an emphasis on LGBT cultural competency.
Committee meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month, from September to May, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, NYC. To join our listserv and to access information on Committee activities, please go to the website at

NASW-NYC PACE (Political Action For Candidate Election)
NASW-NYC PACE is the independent political arm of the Chapter. PACE identifies qualified candidates running for local and state offices and garners support for them among the Chapter membership. PACE endorses candidates who espouse social work values and who work to promote both professional goals, such as loan forgiveness and licensing, and client centered goals such as mental health parity and repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Through funding from a small voluntary portion of annual membership dues, NASW-NYC PACE is able to contribute to candidates. NASW-NYC PACE also mobilizes social workers to participate in political campaigns through the use of social work skills including planning, organizing, motivating, and working within systems. The Committee’s mission includes educating and involving social workers in the political process. NASW-NYC PACE generally meets at the Chapter office from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. E-mail for more information.

New Professionals Task Force
The New Professionals Task Force (NPTF) was formed in 2006 to help early career social workers negotiate the often difficult transition from school to the professional workforce. Through educational and social events, the NPTF has worked to develop leadership capacity, address workforce conditions, and deepen connections among early career social workers in New York City. The NPTF is governed by a 15 person steering committee, has annual meetings and alternating monthly educational and social meet-ups, participates in NASW-NYC events, and visits several schools of social work each year to speak with current students. The NPTF is currently developing a mentoring program for early career social workers and is planning workshops on career development, licensing, and community organizing. For more information, please e-mail the Task Force at

Nursing Home Committee
The Nursing Home Committee consists of social workers employed in various long-term care facilities in New York City, public proprietary and voluntary auspices, as well as representatives from consumer organizations and the New York City Department for the Aging. The NASW-NYC Nursing Home Committee holds quarterly meetings over the program year. One is an annual meeting to discuss Nursing Home Surveillance conducted by Federal and State regulatory agencies with a focus on social work’s role. A second annual meeting is a joint meeting with the NASW-NYC Gerontological Social Workers Committee to review long-term care policy and practice issues. Other meeting agendas include the goal of improving social work practice and working with consumer groups in terms of client advocacy. For more information please contact co-chairs, Wayne Orlowitz at (718) 961-1212 ext 1153 and Ricky Consenza at


Private Practitioners Group
The Private Practitioners Group (PPG) provides a forum for social workers in private practice in which to exchange resources, learn from and support one another, and combat isolation and network, focusing primarily on the non-clinical aspects of private practice. PPG members get together “virtually” by email and in monthly meetings. Over 500 PPG members correspond via an occasional, moderated e-mail “digest” containing members’ posts about locating resources, news pertinent to private practitioners, and an informative “Private Practice Tip.” Each month about 25 members gather at the Chapter office for in-person meetings. Each meeting is freestanding, providing information about a specific topic such as practice building, navigating insurance, getting started in private practice, and tax preparation. LCSWs in part-time and full-time private practice and LCSWs contemplating beginning a private practice are welcome to join the PPG by contacting the chairperson, Lynne Spevack, LCSW at or (718) 377-3400. For more information see “Chapter Committess and Task Forces” at

Social Workers of Asian Descent Planning Committee
Social Work leaders of Asian descent in NASW-NYC today have been meeting to plan for the possible formation of a task force to address issues of concern to social workers of Asian descent. Potentially, a task force might address interests and issues within specific social work communities of Asian descent or those that cut across all groups. In the recent past the Chapter published a special issue of Currents focused on social work with communities of Asian descent, which included a focus group discussion that drew out issues of cultural competency. The need for more bi-lingual, bi-cultural social workers of Asian descent has been a focus of discussion. For more information, contact Ammu Prashantini at

Social Work Pioneers Committee
The Social Work Pioneer Program was originally authorized by the Social Workers’ National Research and Education Fund Board at its June 1994 meeting. The unique mission of this program is to foster the historical continuity of the profession through the pursuit of four major goals. These include: 1) the collection, protection and promotion of the history of the profession; 2) the identification and systematic recognition of those social workers who have made significant contributions to that history; 3) the provision of assistance to the professional community to further the purposes of social work as a profession as the knowledge, experiences, capacity and interests of Social Work Pioneers individually and collectively permits; and 4) the continuation of the development of the Pioneer Program at NASW. Currently, the Social Work Pioneers Committee of NASW-NYC promotes the nominations of pioneers from New York City, and it is building a relationship with the New Professionals Task Force, in an effort to explore possibilities for future joint projects. For more information, contact Ammu Prashantini at


Social Workers Advancing the Human-Animal Bond Interest Group
Social Workers Advancing the Human-Animal Bond meets monthly to share information, discuss cases, listen to speakers, encourage advocacy, and support one another’s efforts. Two major thrusts of our work have been the exploration of animals in therapy (in the office, on horseback, in residential treatment) and the healthy integration of animals in urban life, especially in housing. Several members work with veterinarians and clients on decision making, pet loss, and compassion fatigue. Others assist clients to find veterinary, legal, and support services related to pets and assistance dogs. In addition our members work to sensitize police and social agencies on the need to recognize and deal with animal abuse as a component of domestic violence. Our goal for the coming year is to become a more visible resource to the social work community. For more information about this interest group, please contact co-chairs, Juliet Sternberg at and Susan Cohen at

Social Workers of African Descent Task Force
In 2007, the Social Workers of African Descent Task Force was convened to examine the issues of special concern to social workers of African descent and to develop strategies that could be implemented within the Chapter to address those issues. The formation of this leadership group stemmed from an earlier initiative – a special issue of the NASW-NYC’s newsletter, Currents, which highlighted the special concerns and contributions of social workers of African descent and stimulated a greater understanding of the complexity of issues that all social workers face as they work and interact in their everyday lives. Social workers of African descent shared their experiences and perspectives in articles, a focus group, and an Open Letter to the social work community. The Open Letter, signed by 231 social workers of African descent, highlighted numerous issues which the Chapter has committed itself to addressing. In June 2008, the Task Force hosted a well-attended conference – “Strengthening Black Social Workers Strengthens Our Community.” Planning is currently underway for additional offerings from the Task Force in support of social workers of African descent and the communities they serve. For more information, please contact Darrell Wheeler at

Undoing Racism™ Internship Project
The Undoing Racism™ Internship Project is a collaboration of NASW-NYC, the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB), the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), the Anti-Racist Alliance of New York (ARA), and several of the schools of social work in New York City. The Project is led by a steering committee with representatives from the institutions listed above, as well as faculty members from Hunter College School of Social Work, Fordham University School of Social Service, and Columbia University School of Social Work. New professional social workers who were prior interns on the Project also sit on the steering commitee.
During the 2008-2009 academic year the Undoing Racism™ Project has been an integral part of student organizing in the NYC schools of social work. Some highlights include the following events:
• A post-election discussion on the role of Anti-Racist Organizing
• “World Café Discussion” addressing issues of race with clients, colleagues, and in the classroom hosted by the Interschool Council on Undoing Racism™
• The training of over 75 social work students in the Undoing Racism™ Workshop presented by the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond.
For information, please contact Launa Kliever at

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